Skype co-founder's Oriente raises US$105m in one of biggest initial funding rounds for start-up in Asia

SINGAPORE - Hong Kong-based financial services and technology company Oriente announced on Wednesday (Nov 28) that it has completed a US$105 million (S$144.7 million) initial funding round, with investments from the founders and a group of family offices including members of the Berjaya Group, JG Summit Holdings and Sinar Mas.

It is said to be one of the largest initial funding rounds by any start-up in Asia, and also for a fintech company worldwide.

Oriente was founded in 2017 by former Skype co-founder and chief strategy officer Geoffrey Prentice; former founding chief technology offer and chief operations offer at, Hubert Tai (CEO of Oriente); and founder of BlackPine Private Equity, Lawrence Chu. The company now has over 1,200 employees across offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Manila, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City.

Oriente said that the financing is being used to accelerate technology and product development, scale multi-market operations, and power the growth of its digital solutions into new markets, expanding its reach in South-east Asia's fastest-growing economies.

The start-up uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science, to build solutions that provide real-time credit scoring, digital and online to offline lending and other tailored financial services.

In the past few months, the company has rolled out two app-based ventures, Cashalo in the Philippines, and Finmas in Indonesia. They are aimed at delivering fast and convenient access to affordable credit for millions of underserved in the emerging middle class, and micro, small and medium enterprises, said the startup.

According to Oriente, smartphone users in these markets can download these apps, apply for a loan, and receive a decision and financing within minutes.

Geoffrey Prentice, co-founder of Oriente, said that the start-up was founded on the principles of inclusion and innovation to open financial access, freedom and opportunity for underserved people and micro-entrepreneurs, and helping them build financial identities and participate in the global economy.

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